“We Will Rise:” Graduation for Prospect Hill Academy Charter School’s Class of 2019

Cambridge, MA – The evening of Sunday, June 9th was full of excitement, hope, gratitude, and bittersweet memories for the graduating members of Prospect Hill Academy Charter School’s Class of 2019. In front of an audience of over one thousand family members, friends, Board members, faculty, and staff, the 66 seniors received their diplomas during commencement ceremonies held at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium in Cambridge.

Valedictorian Rojry Basnet, whose parents “both sacrificed everything as they immigrated to the United States in hopes of a better life” called on her classmates to “honor the people who have always believed in you, who have always supported you, and who will continue to be by your side.”

Speaker Wiener Douyon inspired the audience with an impactful poem that incorporated themes of justice, fate, loss, hope, strength, and perseverance, ending with the lines:

And I am more than certain that you all will be seeing
The fruits of our own reaping
Yes, that’s a sight that we should all be cheering
And as our next steps are nearing
The world will realize
WE. WILL. RISE.

For the students on stage and many in the audience, the ceremony was bittersweet with the absence of beloved senior Samaya “Maya” Belizaire-Arrendel, who tragically passed away in September. In her memory, a chair was reserved on stage with a cap and gown, a drawing, and a tiara. During the ceremony, an honorary diploma was presented to Maya’s siblings.

As they move on from Prospect Hill Academy, members of the Class of 2019 will attend a wide range of local and national colleges and universities, including Brandeis, Brown, Bryn Mawr, Colby, Holy Cross, MCLA, Mt. Holyoke, Northeastern, RIT, and Skidmore, among many others. 95% of the graduates are enrolled in four-year colleges.

Photo captions:
1. Prospect Hill Academy’s Class of 2019 assembled outside MIT’s Kresge Auditorium in Cambridge.
2. Members of Prospect Hill Academy’s Class of 2019 with High School and Collegiate Institute Principal Chris Douglas, center.
3. Valedictorian Rojry Basnet addresses her classmates during Prospect Hill Academy Class of 2019 commencement ceremonies at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium in Cambridge.
4. Members of Prospect Hill Academy’s Class of 2019 applaud during commencement ceremonies at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium in Cambridge.

About Prospect Hill Academy:
Prospect Hill Academy (PHA) is one of the oldest and largest Massachusetts charter public schools. Located in Somerville and Cambridge, the school serves nearly 1,150 students in grades K to 12 from diverse racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. 87% are people of color, nearly two-thirds are low-income, and approximately half come from homes where English is not the primary language spoken.

PHA is a college preparatory school, with over 95% of PHA graduates matriculating to college each year (most being the first in their families to do so). PHA has consistently placed in the top 7% of all U.S. high schools per U.S. News & World Report.

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